As the world frantically battles coronavirus, a leading Dutch neurologist warns of the next global pandemic — and this one, he says, is almost entirely of our own making.
Bastiaan Bloem, MD, a neurologist and professor at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, says that over the next 20 years, the number of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) will likely double — from the present 6.5 million to more than 13 million.
The main cause of this exponential jump: widespread exposure to herbicides, solvents, and other toxic chemicals used in agriculture and manufacturing.
“A pandemic, as everybody is now painfully aware, is a disease happening worldwide, to which no one is immune. PD fulfills all those criteria,” Bloem told Parkinson’s News Today in a phone interview from the Netherlands.
“Parkinson’s is now the fastest-growing neurological condition on the planet.”
Bloem, 53, points to the tight link between exposure to herbicides such as paraquat — a weed killer — and the risk of developing Parkinson’s.
“These chemicals were introduced worldwide after World War II, and many are still used today on our fields,” he said. “For this reason, farmers are at a markedly increased risk of developing Parkinson’s. If you feed a mouse paraquat — which is banned in China but not the U.S. — it will kill the dopamine-producing cells in the brain. These chemicals are tremendously toxic to the brain and have even been detected in milk, in supermarkets.”
Paraquat isn’t the only such chemical posing this risk. Trichloroethylene, a solvent used to clean metals and remove stains, has exactly the same effect on human brains. Yet it’s still widely used and is detectable in high concentrations in groundwater, he said.
“Parkinson’s is exploding in numbers, it’s a horribly debilitating disease, and it’s a costly disease that should matter to people and governments. We’re doing this to ourselves,” Bloem said. “But we can do something about it. We need to get rid of these toxic pesticides and move toward organic food. And we should take measures to protect people who work in these toxic environments.”
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Dutch Neurologist Warns of ‘Parkinson’s Pandemic’ Linked to Toxic Chemicals
Trichloroethylene was used in Baldonnel for decades with ERF in particular receiving it in 220 litre drums. From ERF it was handed out without any precautions or training to anyone who asked for it. It was handed out in milk cartons, plastic coke bottles etc.
Trichloroethylene was used by all hangars & workshops in an ad-hoc basis usually with Trichloroethylene begged from ERF although some units did order it themselves. Personnel in the Air Corps museum also used Trike to help degrease parts & aircraft being restored for the museum.
Trichloroethylene was also used by both apprentices, tech & line personnel to carry out cleaning tasks in the Air Corps Training Depot while on training courses or during “war week”.
In at least 2 separate instances some floors in ACTD were completely destroyed by the use of Trichloroethylene being left overnight to clean them. In one incident Trichloroethylene dissolved through a traditional lino floor as far as the backing twine and in another incident few years later a tiled floor was destroyed after the tiles shriveled up & shrunk after Trichloroethylene was left overnight to clean a floor.
Trichloroethylene was also used by teenage apprentices to clean black marks off floors in the Apprentice Hostel and the Apprentice School.
At no point was anyone ever given training in the use of Trichloroethylene nor issued with appropriate PPE whilst working with the chemical.
A number of Irish Air Corps personnel have been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease